Students from schools and universities alike are knee-deep in exams and have no doubt been inundated with revision tips from parents, friends, teachers and next door's dog.

In a blog for The Huffington Post UK, Sarah Slater, a senior consultant for Oxbridge applications, shares her secrets on revision essentials:

Have a complete set of notes

Do this before you leave school - if you've missed any lessons, ask a conscientious friend in your class if you can photocopy their notes (some kind of deliciously chocolaty treat as a sign of unending gratitude may be in order here). Don't just slot the pages into your folder - rewrite them in your own style. Everyone organises their thoughts differently on paper so it's good to have all the information in a format that suits you.

Work out how your learn best

Everyone learns in a different way and so it's useful to figure out what makes stuff stick in your brain before you embark on a major revision drive. Fleming's VARK model divides people into visual learners, auditory learners and kinaesthetic (or tactile) learners - and following this can help you plan your revision effectively.

If you're a visual learner you like seeing information - so try to organise the information you need to remember into diagrams, mind-maps and tables. If you're an auditory learner, you learn best through listening - so look for videos or lectures on the subjects you are studying, or try to arrange a time to meet with a friend and discuss or debate some of the ideas that you'll be tested on in the exam.

Kinesthetic learners like doing things - this is maybe the hardest for revision, but think about what you could explore: maybe go to the science museum and have a go at doing some of the experiments you will be tested on or go for a walk and try to identify some of the features you have studied in Geography.

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Create a revision timetable (and stick to it!)

The aim here is for functionality, not aesthetic perfection. A good idea is to give yourself a time limit for creating your timetable so it doesn't eat into your proper revision time! Check through your syllabus and make sure that you are giving adequate attention to everything that could come up in the exam - it's really important that you are strict with yourself so that you don't end up spending two weeks on the first 5% of the content you've covered and then end up trying to cram everything else into the final couple of weeks. Try to come back to subjects a couple of days later - this will ensure that what you learn is transferred from your short-term memory to your long term memory - and will still be there when you come to sit the exam!

When creating your timetable you should be realistic. Studies show that people can only concentrate for about 45 minutes - so work in blocks like this, schedule in regular breaks for lunch and tea breaks and try to take 30 minutes every afternoon to go for a walk in the fresh air.

You should aim to complete all your learning a couple of weeks before the exam so that you have time to...

Put what you've learnt into practice

It's no good just staring at your notes or copying them out again - you need to test yourself by doing what you'll have to do in the exam. If you've got a maths exam, set yourself some randomly chosen exercises from the text book. If you've got French comprehension coming up, find an article from a French online paper and summarise it in 300 - 500 words in English. Preparing for History? Look for a past question and try to write a really comprehensive essay plan (including detailed examples!) in 20 minutes. Be adventurous in the ways in which you put yourself to the test - if you think it's useful, no doubt it is!

These are short tasks, but they will really highlight what you need to go over again: perhaps you've forgotten that magic formula, you need to go over your verbs again to get the tenses right - or there's that perfect example that would really clinch your argument that you can't quite remember. If you discover the gaps in your knowledge yourself and then take the time to fill them, chances are that knowledge won't escape you again - and you'll be confident to use it again in future.

Keep calm and carry on

Don't panic and don't cram! Keep healthy, get lots of sleep and don't go without TV or a relaxing cup of coffee with a friend in the name of puritanical, revision-focused existence.

There's only so much you can do - maximum eight hours per day if you're taking breaks when you should be - and you should reward yourself (if only to keep yourself sane) when you've worked hard.

Get the support of your parents and siblings - no interrupting you when you're working (even well-intentioned cups of tea can be a distraction and will interfere with your precision-engineered revision timetable) and healthy food for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Study-leave, revision and exams are tough, there's no doubt about it. Keep your chin up, your nose to the grindstone and your eyes on the prize - it will all be worth it when those university offers start rolling in!


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  • Brain-Boosting Foods

  • Avocado

    Avocados are a great source of 'healthy fats' as well as a good blood circulation booster. This is important when it comes to brain power, as it enhances the blood flow to the brain, maintaining healthy brain function.

  • Oily Fish

    The essential omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish like sardines, herring, trout and mackerel, as well as walnut oil and flaxseeds (linseeds) - are high in Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a fatty acid crucial to maintaining a healthy nervous system. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. Fish also contains iodine, which is known to improve mental clarity. For brain and heart health, eat two servings of fish weekly.

  • Whole grains

    Whole grains improve circulation and help regulate glucose levels in the blood as the steadier the glucose levels, the easier it is to concentrate. This is why it's important to eat breakfast in the morning, as it not only revs up the metabolism, but keeps your sugar levels balanced as well as protecting against diabetes and heart disease.

  • Sugar

    Sugar is the brain's preferred fuel source, however before you reach for the table sugar, it's glucose that your body needs. The body metabolises glucose from the sugars and carbohydrates in food. That's why a glass of something sweet offers a short-term boost to memory, thinking processes, and mental ability. Too much sugar on the other hand, can result in impaired memory, so go easy on the sweet stuff and consume enough to boost your brain power.

  • Caffeine

    Like sugar, caffeine perks up the brain but if you have too much, it can have negative effect on your mental state. Found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and some medications, caffeine gives you that unmistakable wake-up feeling. But beware, the effects are short-term and if you overdo it, the brain can go into overdrive and make you more jittery than sharp thinking.

  • Nuts And Seeds

    Nuts and seeds are great sources of antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age. A good intake of vitamin E is linked to preventing poor memory. Nuts are a great source of vitamin E along with leafy green vegetables, seeds, eggs, brown rice and whole grains. Pumpkin seeds are especially good for boosting brain power, as a handful a day is all you need to get your recommended daily amount of zinc, vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills.

  • Blueberries

    Blueberries and strawberries contain antioxidants, which are thought to protect brain neurons from damage, build communication receptors between each brain cell, and flush out waste. They also help protect against age-related diseases like Alzheimer's. Blackberries are also a great brain booster, as it contains Vitamin C which has long been thought to have the power to increase mental agility.

  • Sage

    An unlikely contender, the humble sage has long had a reputation for improving memory. Although its recommended to try sage oils, try and sprinkle some sage into your diet.

  • Vitamins

    Folic acid and vitamin B12 help prevent homocysteine from building up in the body, which is higher in those with Alzheimer's. Vitamin B, C, E, beta-carotene, and magnesium are also good vitamins to stock up on when looking to boost brain power.

  • Tomato

    Tomato's contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's.

  • Broccoli

    A great source of vitamin K, broccoli which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower.